Friday, June 02, 2006

Is the Fox Guarding the Henhouse?

Of course Judith Penchansky wrote me a one-line email response, washing her hands of the suspension appeal and rerouting responsibility to Robert Sammis, the very same person who attempted to extort a "settlement" from me in lieu of suspension. Penchansky, as you recall, is the same person who blackmailed Professor Keeshen and circulated a petition against me with Thomas J. Baker, attempting to coerce my friends into signing. Of course none of my questions have been answered and no student records have been forthcoming. SMC is now in panic mode as the summary allegations against me in their wrongful suspension letter are falling through the holes under scrutiny. Not only has SMC's administration conducted a major smear campaign against me to deflect attention from the many articles I've written on this blog about vital issues concerning the school, they have launched a smear campaign and false allegations against fellow SMC blogger and student rights activist, Jeff Higley.

Truly, the fox is guarding the henhouse.

-- Des Manttari,
Phoenix Genesis

(c) 2006: Phoenix Genesis/MBS LP

--------------------------------- MY EMAIL TO ROBERT SAMMIS ---------------------


Des Manttari
P.O. Box 64563
Los Angeles, CA 90064

June 2, 2006


Attention: Attorney Robert Sammis
Vice President, Planning & Development,
Santa Monica Community College District
1900 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica, CA

Dear Ms. Sammis,

This is a response to your June 2, 2006 email to me (contained below for reference). To date, Santa Monica Community College District, including Judith Penchansky and yourself, have not provided me with my complete student records, including disciplinary records, have failed to repeatedly respond in writing to the legitimate questions I have posed in writing, and have acted in bad faith and in violation of my rights, including those enumerated in the California Education Code and SMC’s own internal administrative regulations governing suspension and access to student records.

For example, I have asked for the names and titles of those individuals who will constitute the SMC Appeals Hearing Committee. This information has not been provided to me. You are in violation of my rights as this information was provided to at least one other student who requested it prior to a hearing. Clearly, I am being denied information that should be disclosed and has been disclosed to others.

I asked Ms. Penchansky for an extension of time to meet with her so that my legal counsel could be available. Rather than respond, I was emailed a rather summary suspension notice. In fact, knowing very well that I was represented by legal counsel (to wit, the Law Office of Lee and Fields), you insisted that I meet with you and Attorney Joshua Morrison on or about April 21, 2006 without my legal counsel present for what you referred to as “settlement negotiations.” At this time, Mr. Dustin Curran was also present and is willing to testify to your statements and events. I was forced to attend this meeting in lieu of Ms. Penchansky’s threats of impending suspension.

During this April 21, 2006 meeting, you did not provide me my complete student records, including disciplinary records nor did you provide me with all the SMCPD police reports you are referencing in your May 23, 2006 suspension email and letter (the latter of which was not even provided to me until after numerous written requests). During our meeting, you provided me with a few incident reports and a few printouts of student information. I was not provided with the written statements of my alleged accusers, the adverse witness statements against me, any favorable witness statements, the petition Ms. Penchansky manufactured and circulated against me with my accuser Thomas J. Baker, any and all correspondence in my file, any and all complaints I have filed, or any “evidence” you plan to use at my suspension hearing. I do not agree with your statement that I “already have most if not all of these documents.” You are in violation of my rights to due process by failing and refusing to provide this information and documentation to me.

Again, I am demanding that all my questions be answered that I have put forth in writing, especially as set forth herein and in the June 1, 2006 email to Ms. Penchansky. I am again demanding that my complete student records, including disciplinary records and SMCPD incident reports, be provided to me prior to my filing an appeal in this instant matter, and that I be granted a further extension of time to file my appeal until I receive my complete files and I am able to have ample time to meet with my attorney to review these statements and correct any inconsistencies, inaccuracies, or anything else I am allowed by law to comment upon. You are in further violation of my rights as a disabled student as you have not provided me an extension of time thus far to review these records, yet Ms. Penchansky granted an extension of time to SMC student Jeff Higley (who is not disabled) until he receives his SMCPD police incident reports and can consult with legal counsel.

These records are not confidential nor is any statement by anyone whatsoever, student or otherwise. If you plan to bring witnesses to my appeal hearing to testify against me, then I am allowed to review their statements as they concern me and I have been damaged as a result of being prohibited from attending class and from being on campus without police escort (the very same police who have acted improperly against me under the color of law). In fact, you are in clear violation of my Constitutional rights by forcing me to be on campus only through constant police surveillance and you are preventing me from obtaining witnesses in my case. Given the overwhelming police abuse by the SMCPD, and the wrongful disciplinary measures against me and other students, you are creating a hostile environment to further coerce and intimidate anyone who would be willing to testify favorably for me.

Additionally, rather than provide me with concrete allegations with substantiated documentation to warrant this immediate and lengthy suspension of two years, including the wrongful disciplinary hold placed on my student records and the denial of me to finish my ET 14 web design class (of which I was enrolled in as a legitimate student), you have provided me with only summary allegations followed by summary SMC Administrative Regulations that I have violated the Student Code of Conduct. Additionally, a reasonable person would not be able to interpret your vague, ambiguous, and overbroad definition of “disruptive” that SMC repeatedly refers to in the suspension letter.

You are in further in violation of my rights to redress grievances such as the disability discrimination and my rights to equal access to education, the discriminatory statements and threatening remarks made by Jim Keeshen to his ET 18 class on or about March 1, 2006, and my legitimate grievances with the SMC Game Club, including other grievances I have made in writing. To date, SMC has failed to respond to these grievances or conduct any investigation whatsoever. Rather, SMC has taken upon itself, through you and Ms. Penchansky, to retaliate with wrongful suspension.

In fact, during our April 21, 2006 meeting, regarding Mr. Keeshen’s March 1, 2006 hate speech against the disabled, his vehement opposition to my SAVE SMC blog, and his threats to come after his students, get them, and have them thrown out of school, and other unspecified consequences, you indicated the following to me or words to that effect:

“Jim was speaking on his own behalf. He was not articulating any position on behalf of the college. It's not something we would condone... Official in his mind. And school policy in his own mind. That's not our policy. He was speaking completely on his own. He had no authority to represent the college. And quite honestly, if he were ever to be sued for that, we would not defend him. We would not be liable for it. He was on his own when he said those things.”

Despite the fact that you stated that both you and the school would not defend Professor Keeshen for his March 1, 2006 statements and threats of retaliation against me and other students, you have allowed him to file unofficial written statements against me subsequent to this speech, to wit, your summary allegation as contained in the SMC suspension letter that I “harassed” him on June 6, 2006. Furthermore, you are proceeding with previous allegations against me by him that you know, of should have known, that are blatantly false, that I have been exonerated in writing by Ms. Penchansky almost a year ago, and that were initially coerced from Mr. Keeshen under threat of job loss and hostile work environment by Ms. Penchansky and SMC. Furthermore, you know, or should have known, that Ms. Penchansky indicated to me on or about August 30, 2005 that Professor Keeshen refused to attend any disciplinary meeting to support his previous allegations against me. Initially, Professor Keeshen was my sole witness and has been coerced, intimated, and threatened to now be one of the prime accusers against me. All of this is a clear violation of my rights to a fair and impartial hearing.

During this same meeting, you indicated that you had what you needed to fire Professor Keeshen (that he was not worth either of our time) and you complained about how much money he makes in this “vortex,” and you stated the following:

“It doesn't need to involve you. In fact it's counterproductive for us when you involve yourself. It gives him somewhat of a defense. He tries to take things off himself by saying that you created it. So you think you're helping us, in fact it's making it more difficult for me to deal with issues with Jim the more you're involved. That's why I have an interest of coming to an agreement.”

Clearly, on its face, you are interested in ridding yourself of me, through whatever unethical and illegal means necessary, including this instant suspension in violation of my rights, so that the way can be clear to fire Professor Keeshen. As Professor Keeshen has stated repeatedly to me, he is the “sacrificial lamb” in this scenario and so am I, and that the school intended to use me to get to him. Since the school has coerced and blackmailed him to write previous false allegations against me, and since he has been unwilling to substantiate these allegations, it is clear that any and all allegations against me by him have been manufactured against me to support your wrongful suspension. As such, these statements should be removed from my student records, including disciplinary records maintained by Ms. Penchansky in her Office of Judicial Affairs. As you are well aware, you are in violation of my rights to communicate with him and SMC is suspending me for such communications (again, which are not justified in particularity). This is being done to prevent Professor Keeshen from again being a friendly witness in my case.

You are in further violation of my rights to obtain vital public records under the California Public Records Act, the school has repeatedly infringed on my copyrights, and has violated my Free Speech rights under the First Amendment to write and publish information pertaining to the school and its individuals on my SAVE SMC Blog. Regarding the copyright issues, you stated the following or words to that effect: “You're gonna forget about it.” As to my SAVE SMC Blog, you indicated that you wanted me to remove the names of individuals, specifically mentioning Katharine Muller and Judith Penchansky and that this had nothing to do “about accuracy or inaccuracy.”

Clearly, you are in violation of my First Amendment rights as contained in the Free Speech clause. As you are well aware, my SAVE SMC blog is done off campus, using my own computer and resources, and online for the public. You have furthermore attempted to infringe on those sacred rights by threatening suspension if I did not “forget” about my copyrights, sign a broad waiver of liability for SMC, drop by California Public Records Act case with prejudice, and remove the names of SMC individuals on my SAVE SMC blog. Of course you and the school aren’t even concerned with what I write about Jim Keeshen as you wish to fire him just as you wish to now suspend me.

During this April 21, 2006 bad faith and heavy-handed meeting with Mr. Morrison and Mr. Curran, you stated the following to me, or words to that effect, which confirm your violation of my respective rights:

“The reaction you're going to get from most administrators in any institution is you're a student. We'll take care of that. You're a student. Your blog reflects some of that kind of 'I know better how to run this organization than they do.' It does. That's an element of what you have in there.” ”We come up with an agreement of how we're going to relate to one and other in the future in terms on conduct on behalf of the college and your conduct, which would include us asking you to remove some information from your blog that we think is defamatory or not fair to individuals. I don't care what you say about the college or its programs. I do have a concern about what you say about individuals at times.”

“You can help a lot by taking individuals off of the blog. I don't care if you criticize the policy of the college or criticize what the Academy [of Entertainment and Technology] is doing academically. There's a whole list of people on there.... but the usuals. Obviously people like Katharine [Muller] in the picture and things about Judy [Penchansky]... We don't get to pick and choose. We need to ratchet down the conflict by doing these things. I don't care if you criticize how the disciplinary process is done here.”

“There are companies who believe that you have unfairly put them in false light on your blog. I'm not going to tell you who they are. They have contacted us. These folks are talking with attorneys. They are not going to sit by. For you, there is an interest in bringing resolution to this.”

“If we can work out an agreement where there is an understanding of how people are going to conduct themselves, then I have no interest in moving forward with the suspension. The college has no interest. The purpose of the suspension is to get people to conform to certain conduct.”

SMC Professor Howard A. Stahl even confirmed that your suspension was retaliatory for my exercise of various writes when he stated on April 25, 2006 the following to me, or words to that effect:

“It is not appropriate. Do you know any other students like yourself who are writing letters to the school and have meetings with Robert Sammis and hire attorneys and all the things you've done?”

Professor Stahl shortly thereafter added:

“Well, there's a petition that the disciplinarian has which has the names of I think almost every single member of the club.”

Professor Stahl went on to add a great amount of revealing information about the suspension that was being manufactured against me along with some enlightenment on SMC's true motives as follows:

”Ask me the last time I ever had a student who had a meeting with the attorney from the school or even knew his name and the answer is never. So I mean you know like in the big grand scheme of things, obviously what you do, or how you do it, or why you're doing it bothers a great number of people. Not just me, but countless, countless other people. Do you realize the amount of effort and to what gain? ... To what end is all of this effort?”

”Actually in reality there are a great number of people who are concerned in your participation in a great number of things. And so it's just not true. I mean like for students that are not doing the things you are doing, you could probably participate in the club.”

”There are a great number of people who are actively working to try to have you suspended.... They're trying to suspend you because of a lot of things you have done.”

If I was such a threat to lives and safety at Santa Monica College, as you are insinuating by preventing me from being on campus without constant police surveillance, then SMC would be under a duty to suspend me. Signing a broad waiver of liability or dropping my copyright infringement claims or California Public Records Act case would have nothing to do with. Of course I have repeatedly heard this “because of what I have done” type of statement from others at SMC and when prompted for an explanation, I am told it is because of my California Public Records Act lawsuit and my SAVE SMC blog, not for anything warranting legitimate suspension. Of course SMC has made sure that many students have heard these unfounded hearsay rumors against me that have been manufactured to discredit me and because of this, have intimidated, harassed, and retaliated against me. Because SMC is under a duty to act to prevent such a hostile and discriminatory environment, and has not only failed to do so, but has encouraged it, you have poisoned the entire disciplinary and appeal process and, as such, the suspension should be dismissed forthwith as I will not be able to have a fair and impartial hearing. Of course SMC student Thomas J. Baker’s written statement to the SMCPD is as equally factually inaccurate, filled with innuendo, hearsay, and statements directly in contradiction to those he made under penalty of perjury, and as such, should be removed immediately from my student records. Had SMC acted promptly to rectify Professor Jim Keeshen’s false statements and hate speech, I am informed and believe and thereon allege that Mr. Baker would have not acted as he did or falsified information as he had. Furthermore, Ms. Penchansky condoned and supervised his false statements to the SMCPD, which of course falsified their March 24, 2006 report.

Additionally, SMC would have acted promptly against me, not delaying for months on end until finally allegedly mailing a suspension letter to me on my birthday, yet another example of the well-time harassment against me. Furthermore, Ms. Penchansky’s blackmail of Professor Keeshen is well documented and SMC did not bother to go ahead with any statement from Professor Keeshen until months down the road when you needed to provide ammunition against my reputation and credibility to prevent me from obtaining public records. Again, over nine months elapsed until this manufactured and coerced evidence is used against me to instantly suspend me, again after I had been previously exonerated of these charges in writing by Ms. Penchansky, and she had failed to afford me an opportunity to meet with her with my legal counsel present.

This entire suspension proceeding is a sham and done in bad faith as a major smear campaign to assassinate my good character, to justify your discrimination of me and your denial of basic services on campus for which you receive federal, state, and district funding, and to further harass, intimidate, and retaliate against me. You have violated each and every single right I may have and, as such, this entire suspension hearing should be dismissed forthwith, as well as the wrongful enrollment hold, and I should be left in peace (as should everyone else at SMC) to pursue my education.

Furthermore, please note that I wish to have no oral communications with you. If you have anything you wish to communicate with you, you can do so in writing and I will promptly respond. You can direct all written communications to my email address. I incorporate my previous written correspondence to Judith Penchansky, dated June 1, 2006, and ask that it be made a part herein and that again, you answer the questions I previously posed and accept the notices I have given regarding my appeal hearing.

Finally, by copy of this notice, I demand that this written document be included in my student records, including any disciplinary files maintained by you, and that it is to be sufficient to warrant notice and that a copy also be placed in your personnel file, the personnel file of Judith Penchansky, and the personnel file of Professor Jim Keeshen at Santa Monica Community College. Furthermore, since you are not allowing me to communicate with Jim Keeshen, I request now in writing that a copy of this correspondence be provided to him as the information contained herein is vital information pertaining to him and his employment at Santa Monica College.

Very Truly Yours,

Des Manttari /s/

U.S. Department of Education, Office For Civil Rights
Dr. Chui Tsang, President

----------------------- COPY OF YOUR JUNE 2, 2006 MAIL TO ME -----------------------

Dear Des:

In response to your June 1, 2006 email to Judith Penchansky, please recall that on two separate occasions, most recently at the time you and I met on April 21, 2006, the District, at your request, provided you with copies of materials that constitute your student record. Specifically, on April 21, 2006 the District provided you with a copy of all police reports in the District’s possession at that time. I am in the process of reviewing the documents that the District will be using as evidence at your suspension hearing. You already have most if not all of these documents. However, I will provide you with a package that will include the documents that support each of the factual charges for your suspension. I will get this to you by mid-week next week.

Please refer all questions and/or comments to me regarding your pending suspension. Please contact me as soon as possible so we may discuss dates for your suspension hearing and review the process for a suspension hearing.

Robert Sammis
Vice President, Planning&Development
Santa Monica Community College District

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